- It has sued the Kenya Forest Service, NEMA, County Government of Kilifi, Ministry of Environment and the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service.
- It further argues that the baobab trees are a unique species and part of the natural heritage protected under the Constitution of Kenya, 2010.
Kituo cha Sheria has moved to court challenging the decision by the state and Kilifi County that allowed the uprooting of Baobab trees.
In a petition filed at the Malindi high court, Kituo argues that the alleged private investors exploited the residents of Kilifi County who they said are facing hardships.
It has sued the Kenya Forest Service, NEMA, County Government of Kilifi, Ministry of Environment and the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service.
Among the orders, it is seeking compensation for the affected community in Kilifi County which it claims relies solely on Baobab tree benefits.
The lobby group also wants the government stopped from uprooting and exporting the baobab trees arguing that it is harmful to the environment.
They also want the court to order the state to restore the trees uprooted by a private company in their natural environment.
According to court documents, in October last year, the company and communities in Kilifi County entered into an agreement with the National Environment Management Agency (NEMA) to export Baobab trees to Georgia.
“The Kenya Forest Service (KFS) and National Environment Management Agency (NEMA) issued permits to facilitate the uprooting of eight baobab trees by the company in Mtondia and Tezo in Kilifi County for export to Georgia for botanical purposes,” read court documents.
Kituo Cha Sheria claims that the company hailing from Georgia was only issued with a felling permit from the county government and failed to comply with the Convention on Biodiversity and the Nagoya Protocol.
“The Protocol for the issuance of the permit required communities to give prior informed consent to any exports, and an agreement between whoever is taking them, the government and the community on how the benefits should be shared but no such public participation was sought nor informed consent,” it claims.
It further says that according to accounts by the community, the company would purchase the tree for between Sh100,000 and Sh300,000 from residents and farmers without considering the age of the tree, some of which were believed to be one hundred years and above.
“Due to the massive cutting down of trees for charcoal, and the uprooting of the baobab tree for export, which to some communities are shrines and places of worship, the land in Kilifi is now bare,” read court documents.
The organisation has also faulted the Kilifi County government for licensing the uprooting of baobab trees and failing to consider and comply with the necessary authorisation required.
It further argues that the baobab trees are a unique species and part of the natural heritage protected under the Constitution of Kenya, 2010.
Kituo has told the court that the county also failed to ensure there was a clear and transparent benefit-sharing formula for the community, which evidently was not obtained.